Sunday, January 17, 2016

Scamming The Critical Mom

We almost fell for one scam geared to academics: calls for papers from an international journal . . . until we happened to see the email address, a private one somewhere not in the U.S. Then there's the indefatigable "Microsoft" man, the one who pronounces his supposed company "Mick-ro-soft," as if he knew perfectly well he were slipping me a mickey: if I'd just drink in his words and follow his advice, as did, alas, an elderly friend, he'd ruin my computer for me. I just got a new scam today, claiming to be from HSBC Hong Kong--but with an email address in Russia, and since the lady in question is not, in my considered opinion, employed by that estimable bank, I'm going to reprint her message here in full, entirely without her permission, and throw in a free English lesson as well:

I am Ms Donna Kwok, HSBC Hong Kong, head of corporate sustainability Asia pacific region. A sum of USD$21,300,000.00 Million was deposited by our Late customer who died without declaring any next of kin before his death in 2006.My suggestion to you is to stand as the next of kin to Fadel Ahmed.We shall share in the ratio of 50% for me, 50% for you.if interested please email:

Donna Kwok.

Ms. Kwok, pick a name that doesn't sound like "quack," for starters. About that  

head of corporate sustainability Asia pacific region

The guy or the gal who is really in that position thinks very highly of him or herself, and would capitalize his or her title: Head of Corporate Sustainability. In order to emphasize the importance of the title, they'd also put the second part of it on its very own line, capitalizing all:

Asia Pacific Region

It's "your late customer," not "your Late customer," but no bank would ever use such a phrase. Why don't you go look at real letters that real banks write? Do a little research, I always tell my students, before you write that term paper. 

I'm going to let you find the other errors in your message, which at the moment gets a grade of F, but if you fix all the errors and throw in a little imagination you might even get a B from me.

And Ms. Kwok, if you're really out there, do yourself a favor and buy the following books:

Strunk&White, The Elements of Style:

Karen Elizabeth Gordon, The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: The Ultimate Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed:

Anne Lamott, Bird By Bird: Some Instructions On Writing and Life:

The first will prevent you from making really dumb mistakes in grammar that reveal you as a quack before your message does. The second will help you to learn to write perfect sentences. The third will, I very much hope, inspire you to write something better than that  silly email. My God, Ms. Kwok, if you've got brain enough to write that, you've got brain enough to write something better. Why don't you write about your life--how did a nice girl like you end up scamming Western Europe instead of writing her memoirs?

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